Thursday, April 21, 2022

lupine lament

The lupine are not as amazing as last year, but I'd still seen some lovely images and wanted to get out there. This would be Miles' first time out at the lake (with me), and sometimes it is a lot (waves, wind, people, bikes). We started out through the green, green forest where he was very good, and then down to the lake.

I had gotten off to handwalk through the tricky rocky/driftwood access (I don't trust his footwork quite yet) and we came out on the lake and Miles had a good look about. Wide and open unlike the forest, but he wasn't too concerned.

We started off and immediately had to cross some deep mud, which took a little patience, but he walked though, no jumping, just needs ot take his time to look at things. We were riding along, I'd taken a few photos, and then it hit me.

I was just sad. So very, very sad. I stopped Miles as I couldn't see through my tears. The last times with Major through here, all our lupine adventures, they felt gone. The rides with my friend C and her horse Shane, gone too soon as well. I know they are memories but the giant hole in me felt so very huge and raw right then. I'm sure Miles didn't understand at all when I got off and slowly walked him a bit.

With a sigh to suck it up I got back on. Miles was very good at the lake, we even did some trotting! Well, until we returned to the forest, and he figured out where we were, and some barn-sourness appeared. We're working on it…by working. Circles and side-passing and backtracking and then we can walk forward without jigging. A good distraction.

Then to top it all off I took Beau for a ride among the lupine a few days later. That day I found out my friend/Beau's owner has decided no more treatment, and is coming home for hospice care. I took some videos of his ears among the lupine, so she could feel like riding the trails. It is the least I could do.

 The lupine is still lovely this year. But a little harder to appreciate.

Friday, April 1, 2022

d.i.y.: desensitizing clinic

Do you have some random crap laying around the barn? And some horses who could use a bit of training or a wake-up day? Well, I did, so I created an arena full of obstacles made from mostly trash and a few dollar store purchases (less than $10). Make your own to torment train your beasts!

people trying things out
Miles was a previous halter horse. They wanted him to be wide-eyed with his head up and fancy, but I sure don't! (That is what the halter pictures look like to me! I'm sure there is much more to it.). I don't think he'd had much desensitizing done, so I've been jumping around like a lunatic on the end of the lead line (now no big deal), laying stuff over and around him, slinging my reins over his head, he's getting pretty used to my antics! 

pinwheel flower is dumb, even when it spins

But I wanted some more structured work at it. So I started digging around in the barn trash and behind the old sheds. Hmmm, strings and bags and hoses and jump standards, I can do something with these! 

bag o' cans is TOO loud

flappy feed bags hang on the fence
I did spend a few dollars at the dollar store (now the $1.25 store!). Pool noodles, pinwheels, and a fabulous unicorn kite. No pictures of the small inflatable fish (think Nemo), but summer supplies will be coming in soon, so I'm thinking more inflatables will make an appearance.

 I had 12+ obstacles. I did not get photos of all of them, but they were:

  • hose with water/puddle
  • cardboard to walk on (this was a tough one for many)
  • tarps to walk on (this too was harder than I thought for some)
  • umbrella open but on ground
  • bag o' cans
  • fence feed sacks
  • hose snakes (pieces of old hose cut into safe lengths)
  • pinwheels
  • twine spiders (baling twine tied together then with a long string you could drag)
  • plastic bag
  • noodle pole
  • noodle walk
  • best of all: unicorn kite

I had a friend show up to help set up, but it was pretty easy. Then I wanted to walk Miles through and show him everything. The item he hated the most: plastic bag. Close second: the feed sack with loud aluminum cans inside. I walked though everything, showed him, gave him time to process, then put him away.

hose snakes
 Some other folks from the stable and next door came over to try it out. It was really interesting to see different horses reactions to the same obstacles. Some did not care, some jumped around, but we kept everyone safe. 

best unicorn kite!

kite gets the side-eye
 About an hour later I went through again with Miles and I think he had been processing some information back in his pasture. He did much better the second time. And has continued to improve! I know we are not encountering a wild pool noodle in the forest (though being by a lake you never know) but it's just making sure his responses are reasonable and he listens to me. It's hard to trust a new person he says (and horse I say!)

pool noodles (on dowels in an old pole)

noodle walk

It was so great for everyone, we all learned something about our horses, and I left all of the items in the arena (in a less-scary plastic bin) for later use. I've used a few every couple days, Miles is getting better and better about the scariest items and now mostly watches me with a look of "You sure are boring, just playing with the same toys over and over again. Can we go eat grass now?" 

Ok, what obstacle would YOUR horse be nervous about? I'm just glad there were no clowns…